Yesterday, nonprofit superstars contributed Six Resolutions to Advance Nonprofit Impact in 2012. Now it’s my turn. Here’s what you can do in 2012 to effectively serve your nonprofit mission:
Many nonprofits suffer from what I call Everything to Everyone syndrome. They work extremely hard to appeal to the widest audience of supporters – donors, volunteers, patrons, media, etc., that they lose sight of their mission. Instead of focusing on what they are best in the world at, nonprofits add to programming or who they serve to make Everyone happy.
Everything to Everyone syndrome is especially problematic when seeking new sources of funding. I have worked with nonprofits so focused on receiving support from specific foundations that they will attempt to add or expand programs that don’t fit their mission or scope of services to be eligible to apply for funding.
Adding Everything to a nonprofit’s scope does not work. Not an arts organization? Don’t add an ill-fitting arts program to be able to apply for funding from Foundation XYZ. If it does not fit the mission or align with the great work being done, it’s a quick path to failure.
This important nonprofit lesson took me many, many years to learn. I worked for far too many organizations who wanted to be Everything to Everyone. For the past six years I’ve worked for an organization that is so true to itself and only focused on the three things that we do better than anyone else in the world. If a donor, volunteer or potential partner approaches us and it does not fit, we find an organization in our community that does fit. We are honest and stay true to our mission. This has won me far more donors than trying to be Everything to Everyone ever did.
Looking to attract new donors or volunteers in 2012? Resolve to be true to yourself. Celebrate what you do well and why and how it works. Be accessible and build relationships. It’s about authenticity, not being Everything to Everyone.